Dismembered porphyry systems near Wickenburg, Arizona: District-scale reconstruction with an arc-scale context


Nickerson, P. A.
and Seedorff, E.

This study combines results from reconnaissance-scale mapping of hydrothermal alteration, rock types, and structures to provide a district-scale cross section and associated palinspastic reconstruction of an area with two previously undescribed Laramide (~70 Ma) porphyry systems at Sheep Mountain and Copper Basin (Crown King). Extension at the district scale is placed in an arc-scale context using an original compilation of strike and dip measurements on Tertiary rocks to reconstruct the Laramide porphyry belt prior to extension. The study area contains five sequential, partially superimposed sets of normal faults that are nearly planar where exposed. Dips of all normal faults initiated at 60° to 70° and rotated during slip to angles as gentle as 20°. A palinspastic reconstruction reveals that two, spatially distinct hydrothermal systems overlie different cupolas of a Late Cretaceous pluton. Hydrothermal alteration is zoned from greisen to potassic to transitional greisenpotassic assemblages from deep to shallow structural levels. The reconstruction is used to identify two covered exploration targets. The prospects may be porphyry molybdenum systems of the quartz monzonitic-granitic porphyry Mo-Cu subclass, joining others in an arc that is best known for porphyry copper deposits. The Laramide porphyry belt prior to extension displays a variably well-defined axis, ~100 km wide, with gaps and clusters of deposits along its 700-km strike length. The majority of deposits lie along the axis, but others lie in fore- or rear-arc positions. The interpreted preextensional geometry of the Laramide porphyry belt resembles other porphyry belts and the distribution of active volcanoes at convergent margins.

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Fig. 2. Generalized geologic map of western Arizona, showing location of the district-scale study area of Figure 3 (gray box) relative to county boundaries and nearby mountain ranges, mines, resources, and exploration targets discussed in the text. MCC = metamorphic core complex (geology from Reynolds, 1988).

Publication Listing

Economic Geology, v. 111, no. 2, p. 447-466.